Clever trickery is not equal to stupid sincerity

One day, when Meng Sun was out hunting, a fawn was captured. Meng Sun bade his huntsman put it on a cart and take it home; but the dam followed and bleated so piteously that the huntsman could not bear to be unkind to the animal, and let the fawn go. When they got home, Meng Sun asked where the fawn was, and the huntsman said, “I could not bear to be so unkind, and I gave the fawn back to its dam.” Meng Sun was furious at this, and dismissed the man from his service; but three months later he recalled him, and appointed him to be tutor to his son. Upon this, an official of the Court said, “Not long ago, you punished this man, and now you appoint him to be tutor to your son; how is this?” Meng Sun replied, “If he cannot bear to be unkind to an animal, how will he bear to be unkind to my son?”

Brutality versus humanity

Yo Yang was a general in the army of the Wei State. When he attacked Chung-shan, his son was in the beleagured city. The prince of Chung-shan boiled this son alive and sent some of the broth to his father, who received it sitting in his military headquarters and drank up a whole cupful. The marquis of Wei, speaking in commendation, said to an officer, “Yo Yang ate his son’s flesh for my sake.” “If he ate his own son,” replied the officer, “who is there whom he would not eat?” When Yo Yang had captured Chung-shan, the marquis duly rewarded him, but became suspicious of his loyalty.

Circumstances alter cases

OF old Mi Tzu-hsia was much attached to the Prince of the Wei State, where there was a law that any one who should furtively ride in one of the royal chariots would be punished by having his feet cut off. Now when Mi’s mother was ill and her illness was reported to him, he went boldly off in one of the Prince’s chariots to see her. On hearing of this, the Prince entirely approved, saying, “Filial piety! For the sake of his mother he risked the loss of his feet.”

On another occasion. Mi was strolling with the Prince in a fruit-garden; and finding that a peach, of which he had partly eaten, was unusually sweet, he offered the remaining piece to the Prince. The Prince said, “Love for me! He forgets himself.”

Mi’s face fell, and his attachment abated. The Prince added, “He furtively rode off in one of my chariots, and now he wants to feed me with the balance of his peach.” (Han Fei Tzu)